“Any interpretation of autonomy as a legal component in government certainly would not include the right to violate the Constitution…”
The first time I saw the alleged map drawn by some adventurers from the Bangsamoro Liberation Front, this columnist was aghast at how these self-styled liberators insist in drawing the boundary to separate The Republic from their area called “Moroland.”
The map indicates the utter disrespect to our boundary separating the whole area of Luzon and the Visayas from Mindanao but including the entire Palawan archipelago as part of their “Moroland.”
Effectively, that makes the waters separating Leyte and Bohol and the whole of the Palawan Sea an open sea, of which all international shipping lanes can pass under the principle of freedom of navigation or right of innocent passage to traverse that sea lane.
The insistence by these adventurers of drawing the boundary they think as belonging to them automatically means that the Philippines has abandoned our constitutionally provided “archipelagic doctrine” incorporated in the 1973 and 1987 Constitutions, and to quote Section 1 of Article 1 of the 1973 Constitution:
“The national territories comprise the Philippine archipelago, with all the islands and waters embraced therein, and all the other territories belonging to the Philippines by historic right and legal title, including the territorial sea, the air space, the subsoil, the sea-bed, the insular shelves, and other submarine areas over which the Philippines has sovereignty and jurisdiction. The waters around, between and connecting the islands of the archipelago, irrespective of breath and dimensions, form part of the internal waters of the Philippines.” (Archipelagic doctrine).
The same provision was reiterated in Article I of the 1987 Constitution, to quote:
“The national territory of the Philippine archipelago, with all the islands and waters embraced therein, and all other territories over which the Philippines has sovereignty or jurisdiction, consisting of its terrestrial, fluvial and aerial domains, including territorial sea, the seabed, the subsoil, the insular shelves, and other submarine areas. The waters, around and connecting the islands of the archipelago, regardless of their breath and dimension, form part of the internal waters of the Philippines.” (archipelagic doctrine restated).
Any interpretation of autonomy as a legal component in government certainly would not include the right to violate the Constitution like seceding from the territory of the Philippines or for a rebel government to decide on matters that would diminish its sovereignty over certain areas where it has established territorial jurisdiction.
Maybe in the field of taxation and decentralization of powers, the idea of autonomy can be granted but not to one that would diminish the power and jurisdiction of the Philippine territory.
Talking of foreign military bases, Section 4, Article XVIII of the 1987 constitution provides:
“Sec. 4. All existing treaties or international agreements which have not been ratified shall not be renewed or extended without the concurrence of at least two-thirds of all the Members of the Senate.”
Without observing this constitutional requisite, the country could never enter into any treaty or agreement.
Section 25 Article XVIII of the Constitution to quote:
“Sec. 25. After the expiration in 1991 of the Agreement between the Philippines and the United States of America concerning Military Bases, foreign military bases, troops or facilities shall not be allowed in the Philippines except under a treaty duly concurred by the Senate and, when the Congress so requires, ratified by a majority of the votes cast by the people in a national referendum held for the purpose. and recognized as a treaty by the other contracting Sates.”
What is apparent is that elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines took it to themselves to enter into an agreement with Australia allowing it to establish a forward base inside Zamboanga utilizing Philippine military camp with the assistance of our armed forces.
The AFP should know that it is prohibited by our Constitution to allow the establishment of foreign military bases in the country “except those that have already been established, and duly concurred by the Senate and, when the Congress so requires, ratified by a majority of the votes cast by the people in a national referendum held for the purpose, and recognized as a treaty by the other contracting Sates.”
This means, any move to establish foreign military bases, station troops or erect facilities is not allowed in whatever circumstance.
Those responsible in unilaterally entering into an agreement with Australia violated the requisite of our Constitution, and neither can Australia proceed to operate its own military base within our territory without going through the process of formalizing it into a treaty or agreement.
In effect, Australia is illegally and unconstitutionally operating a military base in this country.
Unless we sooner make our protest for Australia to dismantle and remove all their bases, troops, and facilities they erected in our territory, this Australian military base effectively constitutes a threat to our national security.
Provocation committed by its military personnel, aircraft or naval ships would thus constitute a clear violation of the country’s sovereignty.
If the Philippines will not act on this sensitive issue, countries whose sovereignty has been violated by this illegal, unauthorized and unconstitutional Australian military base could be interpreted as an act of provocation committed by the Philippines against its neighbors.
It would not matter whether the provocation committed by those Australian military personnel was without our consent.
What is important and crucial is that this unauthorized Australian military personnel began their operation in our territory and committed provocative acts detrimental to the national security of other countries.
It does not matter whether we have knowledge of the act of provocation then committed.
What is important is we have knowledge that an Australian military base is operating in our country and using a sequestered military camp as their base.
Unless, we demand their removal from our territory before any act of provocation is committed, we will always share the blame of responsibility.
Most unusual is we do not have any direct military agreement with Australia.
What exists between Australia and the Philippines is only a collateral agreement which is not sufficient to allow that country to intervene in our internal affairs.
This means that in the event war breaks out between Australia and China, technically this could involve the Philippines with China, citing the fact that the provocative operations began in our territory, meaning that Australia used the Philippines as a launch pad to attack China.